KEVIN DE BRUYNE and Mo Salah never made it at Chelsea because of personality clashes with Jose Mourinho.
That is according to the former head of the Blues' loan department Eddie Newton.
Both players had brief spells on the fringes of the first-team at Stamford Bridge before being sold on.
But they have since returned to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively and become two of the world's best players.
But Newton thinks their Chelsea departures were nothing to do with ability and can be blamed on their relationships with the Special One.
The 49-year-old told Goal: "I think Salah and De Bruyne wasn't about talent.
"It was a personality clash [with Jose Mourinho]. I just didn't think it was working at the time.
"I think they were more than good enough. But it was the manager who didn't see eye-to-eye with them, so it wasn't going to work."
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Liverpool star Salah moved to West London in 2014 after an impressive two years in Switzerland with Basel for £11m.
He was eventually shipped out on loan to Fiorentina in 2015 – having made just three appearances in the Premier League – and then Roma who bought him permanently in August 2016.
The Egyptian spent just a year as a permanent Roma player before agreeing his transfer to Anfield the following summer.
De Bruyne was with the Blues before Salah – staying for two years from 2012 – 2014 after joining from Belgian side Genk.
He spent the 2012-13 season on loan with Werder Bremen before six months back at Blues when he left again – this time to Wolfsburg in a permanent deal in January 2014.
Explaining what happened to the Players' Tribune in 2019, De Bruyne said: "Mourinho texted me: 'You are staying. I want you to be part of this team.'
"So I thought, 'OK, great. I'm in his plans'.
"Jose called me into his office in December, and it was probably the second big life-changing moment for me.
"He had some papers in front of him, and he said: 'One assist. Zero goals. Ten recoveries.' It took me a minute to understand what he was doing.
'HE WANTED TO LEAVE'
"Then he started reading the stats of the other attacking forwards — Willian, Oscar, Juan Mata, Andre Schürrle. And it's like – five goals, 10 assists, whatever.
"Jose was just kind of waiting for me to say something, and finally I said: 'But… some of these guys have played 15, 20 games. I've only played three. So it's going to be different, no?"'
Mourinho gave his own version of events to talkSPORTearlier this year.
He said of De Bruyne: "He impressed me so much I made the decision I don't want this kid to go on loan, I want him to stay, and in our first match of the Premier League season he started against Hull City.
"In the second match we got to Old Trafford and after this he came to me and said: 'I want to play every match, I want to play every minute.'
"He put a lot of pressure on that.
"He wanted to leave, he wanted to go to Germany where he was previously on loan and so happy, and his decision was to go.
"He put big pressure on that and it worked very well for him."
Another man who has returned to Chelsea after leaving to better himself is Romelu Lukaku.
But Newton insists the £97.5m Belgian was never going to make it first time around.
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He added: "For Lukaku, he wasn't ready at the time, and I don't care what anyone says.
"He just wasn't ready to be the main No 9 up front and carry that platform like Didier [Drogba].
"He was always going to be compared to Didier and it wasn't fair to him at that time. It was different situations for different players."
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